(Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc are among banks sending record numbers of executives to this year’s United Nations climate summit, as talks get underway in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates this week.
The number of senior managers from the world’s biggest financial firms that will have access to the main negotiations is at least 200, according to a provisional list of participants compiled by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. That’s considerably more than attended both last year’s summit in Egypt and the 2021 talks in Glasgow.
This year’s Conference of the Parties has faced more criticism than usual from climate activists worried that the event risks becoming a venue for deal-making between oil majors and big financial companies. Sultan Al Jaber, president of the COP28 summit and head of the United Arab Emirates’ national oil company, Adnoc, has said he wants as many interests as possible represented to ensure a “successful” outcome.
Read More: Al Jaber Denies Using COP28 Presidency to Make Oil and Gas Deals
A spokesperson for BlackRock, which is also sending Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink, declined to comment. On Friday, BlackRock co-launched Alterra, a new fund set up by the UAE that aims to mobilize $250 billion in climate finance by the end of the decade.
A representative for HSBC, which has a large office in Dubai, said the bank has participated in previous summits and “is engaging at COP28 in support of the ambition to drive climate action and to contribute to the efforts to finance the net zero transition.” CEO Noel Quinn will be part of the HSBC delegation.
A spokesperson for Citi declined to comment. The bank’s CEO, Jane Fraser, won’t be attending.
The UN list covers people with access to the Blue Zone, at which official COP28 talks take place. While only state delegations have full access, other so-called observer organizations can join plenary sessions and some deliberations around the draft text. In total, more than 100,000 politicians, diplomats, campaigners, financiers and business leaders are expected to turn up this year, according to the UNFCCC.
There’s also a Green Zone, which functions as a sort of climate change roadshow that’s more widely accessible. The UNFCCC list doesn’t capture attendees headed to the Green Zone.
Banks and investment firms can’t nominate delegates directly, so executives seek access to the Blue Zone via observer organizations. That’s typically the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Emissions Trading Association, but has also included other government and non-governmental organizations, according to UNFCCC data. Roughly 150 of this year’s finance participants were invited by the COP28 host, the UAE.
This year’s participants number is provisional. A final list is usually published by the UNFCCC after COP talks are wrapped up.
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